Selection Criteria


What is selection criteria?

This is what an employer has assessed a person needs to demonstrate in order to perform the job as required. They will usually look at things like personal skills & attributes, work experience, technological aptitudes, qualifications and even tangible things. It will often be included in documents such as a job description and from there can also be included in advertisements for jobs. You will commonly see them in job advertisements as several dot points listed under a heading something like “essential criteria”.

Some examples of selection criteria are:

  • Demonstrated initiative and ability to work independently in the completion of priorities which may have competing deadlines
  • Well-developed written communication skills
  • Ability to work effectively within a small team
  • Conceptual skills, with sound analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Minimum 3 years’ experience in a similar role
  • Knowledge and understanding of social policy and issues that communities in Western Sydney face
  • Demonstrated skills in the use of a range of computing applications such as Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint and capacity to use databases and software systems
  • Tertiary qualifications in Social Work, Social Science, Counselling or related fields
  • Qualifications in Information Technology at Certificate IV level minimum
  • Current driver’s licence
  • Current clearance of a NSW Working with Children check

What is an employer looking for? How to address selection criteria?

Some ads will include a statement requesting that you address selection criteria in your application. Some will just state the dot points as essential or desirable criteria or “what you need to succeed”. If you find this, it’s in your best interests to address these when applying, but simply put it is just about explaining how you meet each of these criteria.

Some employers will require a very thorough explanation against each individual criteria and in these cases it’s best to prepare a succinct and well written explanation to answer them. These application processes usually apply to jobs such as in the public service and government. But more often employers asking for selection criteria are simply looking for something included in a cover letter. Some employers even include an easy way to address these in their online application process by way of a questionnaire.

Putting something together to address the selection criteria is just about answering each criteria as if it were a question. You want to let the person reading your application know you can do these things, or you have what they are looking for. But it’s not always enough just to restate the criteria they were asking for by simply saying I have…that approach only really works when you are stating qualifications and tangible things you hold like a driver’s license.

When they are asking if you have a particular skill, aptitude or experience, you are best to draw upon a brief example of how you’ve used this in the past or your current job to illustrate you

  1. understand what they are asking for; and
  2. can demonstrate you have this ability/skill/aptitude

Here is an example to get you started…lets take this criteria from the examples above:

“Demonstrated skills in the use of a range of computing applications such as Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint and capacity to use databases and software systems”

In addressing this criteria, you may rate your skill level with each of these programs and simply list one or two things you’ve used these programs for in the past. You may also be able to refer to a course you may have done to learn these skills.

The trick is you want to use enough words to explain your ability but not too many words that it loses the attention of the reader. Remember that employers and recruitment agents are busy people and especially in the current state of the job market often have an overwhelming amount of applications for jobs that they simply wouldn’t have the time to read through each person’s documents with a fine tooth comb. Your job is to make your application stand out, make them want to read more about you and sometimes that means getting your point across quickly but maintaining attention to detail.

What about desirable criteria?

Desirable criteria are those things that would be nice to have but are not an essential requirement of the role. They are things that will help an employer/recruiter determine the best candidate for the role if they can satisfy not only the essential and desirable criteria. If you are able to meet these criteria too, definitely include that in your application but if you can’t don’t worry, the essential criteria is more important.

Bottom line, if you are asked to address selection criteria in applying for a job, be sure to include something. If you don’t follow the instruction in the ad you run the risk of your application not being considered at the same level as those who did or even at all.

It can be really exciting finding a job that you’re interested in or meets what you’ve been looking for that you just want to apply right away (and there are good reasons not to delay an application) but it’s always a good idea to read the ad in full before hitting that apply button. This gives you a chance to apply exactly how they are asking and show that you understand the job well. Going one step further you can even do a little more research such as perhaps looking at the company’s website or reading the job description in full if attached to the ad to allow you to make your answers to the selection criteria align with the way the organisation works or even what will specifically be the duties in the role.

There is many more components to a recruitment process than just the application and selection criteria stage, but it is important that you put your best foot forward at this stage where only your written information is telling the story.

Lastly, if an employer/advertiser lists an ad on our website asking for selection criteria to be addressed they may also include a questionnaire system when you click on “apply” to assist you, so our tip is to be prepared with some answers perhaps saved in another document first and copy paste these into your application form and best of luck! 😊